“Equipping for Life: A Guide for New, Aspiring & Struggling Parents”

Parenting is a honorable and difficult task, made even more complicated by a world that puts little value in raising children, much less pointing them to Christ and his gospel. Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger have drawn from their own experience as parents to provide the church with a helpful book titled Equipping for Life: A Guide for New, Aspiring & Struggling Parents.

The Amazon description states the motivation behind this new book:

Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger do not call themselves parenting experts, professional speakers, or professional counselors, but a mom and dad, a Christian couple who believe in mentoring and making disciples. They love God and His Word, and what He says about marriage and the family. This book is written from the perspectives of both parents, working together, reflecting the partnership they believe is so vital to parenting.

Here is an excerpt from chapter 7, “First Things First: Helping your child grow in character.”

Developing character

Rather than focusing on good grades or athletic success, invest the bulk of your efforts on helping your child to develop character.[1] What do we mean by “character”? Essentially, character is who a man or woman truly is in his or her heart, exemplified in what he or she does when no one’s looking. Character means integrity, a stable core of conviction that isn’t easily shaken by peer pressure, cultural influences, or varying circumstances. It is constant.

As you seek to shape your child’s character, which values will you wish to promote? Is it serving God, loving others, developing courage and conviction, and standing up for what they believe? If so, what will your strategy be to teach and reinforce those values? Character isn’t formed by default or by chance. What’s more, as mentioned, children tend to imitate their parents’ behavior, so we’ll want to make sure that we ourselves are people of integrity.

How do we accomplish this?

First, we must acknowledge we can’t develop character in our children unaided by the Holy Spirit. The burden is beyond measure; we can’t do this work in our own strength. The Spirit must do his work in our children as they enter their own relationship with God, striving and aspiring themselves to be men and women of integrity and moral excellence. Paul encourages believers to “walk by the Spirit” and be “led by the Spirit” and goes on to write that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”[2] He adds, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”[3] Elsewhere, he urges believers to be “filled with the Spirit.”[4] Yet in another place, he writes that “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” and adds, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”[5]

What this catena of Scripture passages on the Spirit shows is that it is he who produces in us what is pleasing to God. As we walk with him, are led by him, live in Him, keep in step with him, and are filled with him, we’ll set our mind on spiritual things, and the Spirit of the risen Christ will infuse our mortal bodies with supernatural strength to surmount our sinful nature. In this way, we’ll be able to please God and do all things through him who strengthens us.[6] As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor. 10:23). Again, the apostle strikes the balance beautifully when he urges believers, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.[7]

Our children should be encouraged to actively “work out their salvation,” trusting that God is at work in them, both to have the resolute will and the actual ability to live the life God wants them to live. This is true for us as adults, of course, and applies in the same way to our children. If you have successfully introduced your child to Christ, or they have received Him and become a child of God, their spiritual lives can be nurtured by teaching them from Scripture about the work of the Spirit along the lines of the above-cited passages.

You may even want to let them read the preceding paragraphs. You could also write these Scripture passages on a piece of paper, or in an email, and give it to them to dwell on or, better still, to memorize. The last thing we’ll want to condition our children to do is live the Christian life in their own strength. This will only lead to failure and frustration, if not despair.

Instilling virtues

In large part, helping our children develop character entails inculcating virtues in our children. To break down the matter in more practical terms, children’s sinfulness is borne out in several ways: they typically lack self-control and lose their temper, tend to be disobedient (or at least, shall we say, have a mind of their own, redefining the terms of parental instruction), may be lazy or lack a proper work ethic, and are undiscerning and naïve, if not downright foolish, like we once were (if we’re honest). If you want more specifics, work through this list from Proverbs. It was written to instruct young men, but the principles apply to boys and girls alike. Here’s a goldmine of virtues parents can seek to instill in their young children so that when they’re old they will not depart from them:[8]

How do you go about instilling these virtues in your children? Start with yourself. You must put a priority on developing character. You can even verbalize this by telling your children that while you rejoice in their prowess at basketball or ballet, even winning and achieving, you value even more their integrity in dealing with others (e.g. “I liked how you encouraged the other players and didn’t brag about yourself”). After a while, it may come about that they value what you value because they innately want to please you and tend to imitate and emulate your values.


  1. ^ See Tripp, Parenting, chap. 10, who takes his point of departure from Romans 1:28–32 and applies this passage to parenting.
  2. ^ Galatians 5:16, 18, 22–23.
  3. ^ Galatians 5:25.
  4. ^ Ephesians 5:18.
  5. ^ Romans 8:5, 11.
  6. ^ Philippians 4:13.
  7. ^ Philippians 2:12–13.
  8. ^ The list is taken from Köstenberger with Jones, God, Marriage, and Family, 95–96. All Scripture references are to the book of Proverbs.

Andreas Kostenberger

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Margaret Kostenberger

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Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24